New Year’s Eve

And I thought I had the day off – it doesn’t seem like it. Been cleaning almost the whole day, and I’m not done in the office yet. Tomorrow will most likely be more cleaning; unfortunately the new entertainment center has not arrived as I hoped to put that together this weekend and there’s CDs and stereo components everywhere. At least we should be ready for it if it’s here by next weekend.

Now I have to go get food ready. We’re going to try out the fondue pot tonight, and we’re going all out – cheese, meat, and dessert courses. Tonight, we’ll be checking out Robbie Schaefer from Eddie From Ohio, as well as Paul and Storm from Da Vinci’s Notebook and the Brindley Brothers at Jammin’ Java. We’ll be there until midnight, and may check out some friends’ party later.

Hope everyone has a safe and somewhat sane New Year!

Christmas weekend

And it’s just the two of us again. These past couple days were a whirlwind of activity.

Friday evening we went to church. Robin chose the 5PM service, not knowing that was the children’s one. A little different, as each Sunday school class had a presentation. We headed home and I made buffalo wings. I would have thought 4 pounds of chicken would have gone farther, but we finished them off fast, with a fair amount of celery. We went over to Mel and Scott’s for a while, also catching up with some other friends, it was fun. We headed home as we still had plenty of prep for Christmas.

Christmas morning everyone was up early but me. I didn’t get up ’til nearly 11. Robin had opened most of her gifts, and we had to wait for Sue to finish making her dessert so Jill and I could open our stockings. I got her a Starbucks card and some restaurant gift certificates (Ice House & Supper Club of India), and she got me the U2 CD, and some low carb snacks. I made eggs benedict for breakfast, then we cleaned up the place and fetched some firewood from the woods while we played Christmas movies (old school, too: Holiday Inn and White Christmas).

I was cooking goose and a rib roast for dinner, and I thought I would cook them together for two hours. Luckily I checked to see how long the goose should take to cook, and found out for the one I had and stuffed, it was supposed to cook for 4 hours. I popped it in the oven as it was just over 3 until we were planning on eating, and it cooked faster than advised. Jill made mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus and broccoli. I made gravy from the goose fat. We were a little delayed getting everything out to the table, but everyone wasn’t quite ready to eat. In addition to Jill’s family, my immediate family joined us, so we had 8 around the table.

After dinner it was time for presents, and we ripped into them (after I got a fire going). I got a nice collection of DVDs from my family (seasons of Futurama, Simpsons, and the first Looney Tunes collection), and a sweet 6 pack of Dave’s Insanity sauces from Jill’s mom. Jill’s sister was happy to get her McFlurry set (Jill found the last one in the store), and I gave my sister a new printer that can print with just her camera’s compact flash card.

After presents, we had dessert. Jill had made a low carb chocolate pudding pie that was very tasty, and her mom made Indian pudding, a traditional dessert. I turned on the TV for “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I hadn’t quite mastered the HD antenna, and kept switching from messing with it and keeping the fire going for a while. By the time the movie was over, everyone was wiped out and headed for bed.

Sunday morning the ladies got up early for the sales. Sue wasn’t feeling well and went back to bed before I got up. I went online to find a decent waffle recipe, then made the batter and prepped our new waffle machine, making a pile when Jill and Robin returned. They went out again and Dave and I enjoyed his Christmas tradition – watching “Die Hard”. It looked nice on the TV, but not as nice as the Redskins game (shame about the outcome). Some HD broadcasts aren’t maximizing the screen, but football sure does – and the sound’s in 5.1 as well. Dave was impressed he heard a coach get off the f word before they cut the surround mike. I think I’d be happy just to watch football on that TV – it’s truly amazing.

Mom wanted to host a dinner, so most of us (Sue still wasn’t feeling well) headed over there to join her and Sharon for a nice ham dinner. Dessert was a yummy cherry torte and her cookies (that must have crack as one of the ingredients). We got to see Trina again as she opened her stocking (Santa was very good to her this year). Jill had to work today, so we didn’t stay that long. Jill and Robin headed to bed, and Dave and I watched some football highlights and Mythbusters (ironically the same episode that was a conversation topic Friday night – ice bullets and rotting pigs) before going off to sleep ourselves. This morning I helped them pack their overstuffed car (including some things left behind in September) before heading off to work myself. The house is pretty messy, and probably won’t change much until both of us are off on Friday.

Merry Christmas

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, but more importantly, the TV is set up and receiving most gourgeous HD over the air feed, as well as the current DVD player looking quite nice. I imagine Santa stopping by and not leaving for a couple hours, hypnotized by the picture.

I was up way too late Wednesday getting the wiring ready and clearing out and moving the CD towers. Thursday we ran two full cars worth of cardboard to recycling during a break in the rain, then we switched out the TVs (Jill’s family gets the old one). Turned out I needed a couple more wires, so I went for my massage, then hit Radio Shack on the way back. The HD antenna was only pulling in one channel, so I tried putting it in the attic, but that was worse. Finally I found an angle it likes, and now I’ve got most of the DC HD channels. Looks great, too – can’t wait for the Skins game on Sunday.

The inlaws got here yesterday afternoon, and Jill went food shopping with her mom and sis, while Dave supervised the TV efforts. After pizza, lobser bisque, and homemade pierogies, we went to catch Getaway Car, a great show from a great band. Today we hit Safeway for tomorrow’s big family dinner (8 people, rib roast and goose), then I remembered I hadn’t gotten cards so I went to Hallmark and finished wrapping gifts I have (did I mention Jill’s gift won’t ship until the second week in January? Bugger.). Next is Christmas Eve service, followed by buffalo wings, then over to Mel & Scott’s shindig.

Prolly won’t post again until Monday or so, so I hope eveyone has a great holiday, and you get everything you want and need.

By popular demand

The black and white photos are up (one is still a demand).

Came close to buying a DVD-recorder today (something to reward myself with after finally killing the bug I’d been working on all day at 7:30). I decided the only one that meets all of my needs is the Toshiba RD-XS52 (in geekspeak, currently the only DVD recorder with both HDMI output and FireWire input), but even at the lowest price of $460, couldn’t justify buying it this month (not looking forward to the credit card bills as it is). So I went over to Best Buy, drooled on their TVs and DVD recorders, and bought an HD antenna for tomorrow (I’m not even messing with a new satellite system until January at the earliest, and I think I’ll need it anyway, as I know Dish Network doesn’t carry this many channels).

Pictures at last

Ok, I finally have the main (color) section of the professional wedding pictures up. Apologies for lateness, should have the b&w ones up tomorrow.

We did finish cleaning the rest of the basement today; we also bought a new entertainment center (delivered after Christmas, unfortunately) and went grocery shopping. And I made Kung-Pao chicken & shrimp for a potluck lunch at work tomorrow. Now I’m going to check into a new DVD player (you can’t just buy a TV, now) as the wind howls past the window.

Mood: accomplished

Finally got the finished part of the basement to my satisfaction. The 15″ LCD TV/monitor is mounted to the south wall, with the elliptical machine right in front of it. I even watched the first 25 minutes of the ‘Skins game on the machine. The books are all in the bookshelf, and all artwork is up on the walls. Tomorrow: the unfinished part (currently like one of those closets you shove the mess into while cleaning).

Dialup doesn’t bother me for the most part, but when I went to upload the first 250 pictures (there’s only 36 more black and white after that), it said 15 hours remaining. It choked after 106, we’ll see how tonight does.


My new word for the day. It’s what the Trans-Siberian Orchestra does to music. One of the reasons Jill is a good match for me is we have much of the same taste in music. I think she’s a little more into Christmas music, and I’m into the guitar driven rock, and that makes the Trans-Siberian Orchestra a great group for us.

Traffic was just awful last night. Jill was supposed to get to the office at 5:30, it was 5:45 by the time she got her, and nearly 6 by the time we got to Centreville Road, less than a mile away. We had considered going to Sweetwater in Manassas for dinner, but decided it would take too much time to get there and get served. I needed to stop in Fair Oaks Mall at the Things Remembered shop there (I had ordered some engraved plates for my original art to id the artists), so we went there first. 50 was slow, so we jumped down to Fair Lakes Parkway. We went past a couple restaurants, and choose Silver Diner because we knew we’d be in and out fast (I had the chowder and ginger-chicken skewers, not bad).

We were back on the road by 7:30 – plenty of time to get to the Patriot Center by 8 – or so we thought. Traffic was good on West Ox and 7100, and ok on Braddock until we got to Shirley Gate. Then we crawled for 15 minutes. It was five minutes to 8 when we turned around, and took Shirley Gate to 29, 236, then 123. We walked into the Patriot Center at 8:20. Much to our surprise, the house lights were still on. We weren’t sure if they were waiting for the audience or the artists (Paul O’Neill, the creator of TSO, walked past us right before the lights went down), but we were happy they hadn’t started.

They kicked it off with “Wizards in Winter” from the new CD “The Lost Christmas Eve”. Then (as with every time I’d seen them) they went into a slightly abbreviated version of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”, their first (and still most successful, how so was to be revealed later) CD. There are two touring TSOs due to the high demand, East and West, and we got the East as usual Duh). The core band has mostly stayed the same, and they do a great job, particularly Chris Caffrey and Alex Skolnick on guitars, and Bob Kinkel on keys. I noticed more of a willingness to experiment with the songs last night, some tasty vocal and instrumental additions. One of the vocalists who’s been touring with them for a while, Darryl Pediford, passed away this summer, but Jay Pierce , his replacement, did a fantastic job.

After the “Christmas Eve”, they got to the more impromptu second half, where the setlist changes every year and they play the new stuff. The highlight for me was the rocking new “Christmas Nights In Blue”, which lead into a tease of “Stairway To Heaven” when Alex brought out a double necked guitar, then they cruised right into “The Immigrant Song”, really well done with one male and three female vocalists (I think it’s the only way you can replace Robert Plant). They played some of their non Christmas songs, some of the pieces based on Beethoven and Mozart from “Beethoven’s Last Night” and “Carmina Burana” from the upcoming “Night Castles”. They ended with “Wish Liszt” from the new CD and a reprise of “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”.

I had mentioned to Jill it would be nice to stay afterwards and get something signed sometime, and I was surprised when she left to use the restroom and came back with a program – I hadn’t brought anything to get signed. I was thinking I wouldn’t do it last night either, as it was 11 when we left as the show was ending, and I knew I had a busy day today. But I went to use the restroom while she put on her coat, and when I came out, saw there were only four people in the signing line. I decided we’d wait for the signing. They took about half an hour to come out, but they were very nice and gracious, handing out guitar picks and taking pictures. We got the front of the program signed, it looks very nice. We were home by 12:30, and I was in bed by 1.


Nice party last night, good crowd. We were supposed to start at 6, but the first guests didn’t show until after 7, which was good, because we were running about an hour and a half behind. The basement did not get tackled as far as setting up the new stuff, but every other room was cleaned and made spiffy.

This year we ran out of the hot appetizers, where last year we had lots left over. Still a fair amount of chips left, and soda. This year we ended up with a surplus of wine instead of beer, but Jill’s happy about that. We had a good mixture of friends show up, although oddly no one from our respective workplaces showed.

Today we ran by Roomstore because Jill won a $500 gift certificate. And she won that bed and breakfast trip about this time last year. I told her next year we’re playing the lottery big time.

We also hit Michael’s (more frames for me, stocking decorating supplies for her), Best Buy (decided on a Sony 50″ LCD TV, but found a better price), and Safeway (only got party supplies yesterday, got some food for the week, including steaks for tonight). Gonna watch the game tonight, so I don’t think I’ll do anything in the basement – I’ll read the paper and pay bills instead. Oh, and I just ordered the TV.


As if I didn’t have enough to do to get ready for the party tonight, I was considering getting this tv since it’s now under $2K, but in researching it, it turns out Philips has discontinued their LCoS line, and that makes me a little nervous about buying one.

I had to look it up today because CompUSA was offering one for $1999, which was the best price I’d seen, but looking online it’s much cheaper, even with shipping. I think I’m not ready to buy anything just yet -soon, though.